Hearing vs Listening

As an early childhood education major, this is a topic that I think about frequently. In my classes, we talk about working hard to understand what the children in my preschool class are trying to say. This made me think deeper about the difference between hearing and listening. It also gave me the opportunity to evaluate my own skills.

This topic relates back to a saying that I try to live by every day. Simply value those around you. Daily life is something that many young people don't value in the moment. This directly leads into my topic of hearing those around you instead of listening.

You might be thinking, is there a difference? There is a huge difference between these two words that are often used as synonyms. Listening is when you physically hear what someone is speaking, but you don’t take the time to process the information. Hearing is when you try your best to relate to the issues of the other person. It's when you put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Also, it's when you truly care about what the other person has to say and not just about your own life experiences.  


Now, you might be asking yourself, how do I work on these conversation skills. Hearing the words of another person involves more than just your ears and mind.

The first part of improving your skills is through body language. This plays a large part in how you are perceived by the other person. When the other person is speaking to you, it is important to make eye contact. Keep in mind, you don’t have to stare deep into their soul during the whole conversation. I try to break eye contact every so often to keep the atmosphere from becoming tense.

Another important part of your body language is standing in an opening manner. You don’t want to be crossing your arms or have your body positioned away from the person you are speaking to. You want to keep the conversation friendly and open! To keep it like this, maintain a relaxed and comfortable body.

Moving forward to the conversation part of the interaction. It is important to really process the information that the other person is giving to you. One way to show that you are hearing the words that they are saying is by simply nodding your head or stating “yes, I understand that” or “yes, I hear your concerns.” Using these simple statements encourages the other person to continue talking and open up more. In some cases, I find myself slipping in my own opinions or stories any chance I get. Recently, I have found it more effective to allow the other person to vent about themselves without inserting my opinions in every few seconds. 


As I’ve got older, I learned more about these skills and how important they truly are. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where we go or what material items we have. What does matter is the bonds we have made with the people around us and how they have made us feel.

A feeling is something that you never forget. The feeling you get when a friend hears the words you speak in a time of need is unlike anything else. As humans, we crave strong relationships. Developing these skills can lead you one step further in creating deeper connections with the people you care about the most.